In my never ending quest to find interesting award travel options, I stumbled across an interesting offer from Air Berlin’s Topbonus program – a companion award ticket for 50% of the miles when you redeem your Topbonus miles for an award ticket.
I think Air Berlin’s Topbonus program tends to get overlooked a lot due to the fact that they have limited transfer partners (more on that later) and are a Euro-centric airline (which does not help those of us with extreme wanderlust who want to see every inch of the world). With that said, I happened across an offer from the Topbonus program that I thought was worthwhile sharing. When you book an economy class award ticket using your Topbonus miles, Topbonus allows you book an identical ticket for your traveling companion for just 50% of the mileage!
That is a surprisingly generous offer for a program that does not really get a lot of love from the award travel community. However, there are some restrictions that are worth noting:
- Both award tickets must be booked and used at the same time (all flight segments must be the same). They can also only be rebooked together. The award miles used for the tickets will be deducted from the same mileage account, which must have a high enough balance of miles to cover both award tickets.
- If the Master Ticket is cancelled, the Companion Ticket will also be cancelled. Please note that, as per clause 2.4.4 of the terms and conditions of membership, the mileage used in payment will not be re-credited to the member’s account if a ticket is cancelled.
- Taxes, charges and fuel surcharge are not subject to any discount and must be paid in full. The Master Ticket and Companion Ticket must both be booked either inclusive or exclusive of taxes, charges and fuel surcharge.
- Companion Tickets are only available in Economy Class on flights operated by airberlin and NIKI.
- The Companion Ticket offer does not apply to discounted tickets (Topdeal Tickets, mileage promotion campaigns, etc).
- Only one Companion Ticket per booking is allowed.
- The person booking the Companion Ticket does not need to be a passenger.
Given these restrictions, you can only utilize the 50% discount on flights operated by Air Berlin or NIKI, which does substantially limit your travel options as neither airline has a substantial footprint worldwide.
Topbonus Transfer Partners
Of the four major transferable currencies (Amex MRs, Chase URs, Citi TYPs and SPG Starpoints), only SPG is a transfer partner of the Topbonus program. That is both good and bad. It is good because SPG is the only program of the four to offer a bonus of 5,000 miles per 20,000 Starpoints you opt to transfer. That is extremely generous of SPG and is one of the things that make Starpoints so valuable to the points and miles collector. It is bad because I do personally consider Starpoints to be the most valuable of all of my transferable currencies and I prefer to save those for long haul business class redemptions. But that’s just me!
The Topbonus Award Chart
The Topbonus award chart is based on one-way award flights. For flights between the U.S. and Europe, a roundtrip award ticket will cost you 50,000 miles.
That means that your second award ticket would cost you only 25,000 miles. Given the transfer bonus from SPG per 20,000 Starpoints transferred, that means you would only need to transfer 60,000 Starpoints to get two roundtrip economy class tickets between the U.S. and Europe. What’s even better is that neither Air Berlin nor NIKI pass on surcharges. That means you will just be responsible for the extremely reasonable taxes and fees. That’s actually pretty darn good value all things considered!
Where Air Berlin Flies To In The U.S.
As I mentioned before, Air Berlin and NIKI have a rather limited footprint worldwide (comparatively speaking anyways). NIKI does not offer any flights to the U.S., while Air Berlin flies the following routes:
- New York (JFK) – Berlin (TXL)/ Dusseldorf (DUS)
- Miami (MIA) – Berlin (TXL)/ Dusseldorf (DUS)
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Berlin (TXL)/ Dusseldorf (DUS)
- Fort Myers (RSW) – Dusseldorf (DUS)
- San Francisco (SFO) – Dusseldorf (DUS)
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) – Dusseldorf (DUS)
- Boston (BOS) – Dusseldorf (DUS)
On the whole, the flights from New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) seem to have the most award availability. The flights between Dusseldorf (DUS) and San Francisco (SFO), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Boston (BOS) only started a few months ago, though award space on those flights seems to be sporadic. Remember that in order to take advantage of the 50% discount that you would need to position yourself to one of these connection cities on your own. That may or may not be a make or break proposition for you with this deal depending on flight prices from your home airport.
While I ultimately do not find Air Berlin’s Topbonus program to offer the most appealing award chart overall, with the 50% discount for the second ticket there is definitely some value to be had with the program if you are redeeming for two travelers. Considering the award ticket costs, I could transfer a comparable amount of Starpoints to Virgin America for a spectacular Virgin Australia business class redemption. That’s a proposition I personally find much more appealing, though I am only booking travel for one these days so YMMV (your miles may vary).
Has anyone taken advantage of this offer?
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